Friday, August 28, 2015

Fail Friday: Jesse Alston

This week's Fail Friday post features special guest painter and interior designer, Jesse Alston, who had this story to share:

"My fail took place just last year. Before my wedding last October, I was approached by someone about doing a commissioned painting for them. The painting was to be of their old family farm house. I was eager to take on a "real" commission job so I said yes! They supplied me with multiple photographs of the house and dictated what size canvas. 

Honestly, my process for painting can be stressful sometimes. I start working and pretty much immediately hate everything about what I put on the canvas. After some awkward pep talks with myself, I am usually convinced that I should keep working and it will get better. This painting was no different. I hated it then I loved it. Hated it... then loved it. Over and over again. 

It was now just 2 short weeks before my wedding and I was crazy busy with all the finishing details of planning a wedding like final meetings with vendors and planned events being generously thrown for us. I desperately wanted to complete the farm house painting and get it to the client before the wedding, so I made a final push to finish. When I did, I actually loved it! 

I proudly took pictures of the finished product to send to the client for approval and even volunteered to deliver it whenever they would like hoping that they would then supply me with a check for my work! It felt like I waited forever for a reply, but then again I was just really excited and impatient to see what they thought about the painting. 

When the response finally came, it was a huge let down. They didn't even mention what they thought of the painting and just said something along the lines of they shouldn't have rushed me so close to the wedding and they wanted to talk to me about it after the honeymoon. That was it. It was pretty clear that they weren't a fan of the painting and even implied that it was thrown together last minute. 

I don't have thick skin when it comes to my art, so my feelings were pretty hurt, but I pushed the ordeal to the back of my mind and decided I would worry about it after our honeymoon. When we arrived back home, there sat the lonely, unwanted painting of the farm house. I hated everything about it. The client's lack of a reaction to it made me view my work in a completely different light. All the things I liked about it suddenly turned to things I hated about it. 

They said they would get in touch with me after the honeymoon, but weeks later I still hadn't heard anything. Weeks turned into months and still nothing. The thought about quitting art or at the very least quitting commissions entered my mind many times. I was upset because I had worked so hard and spent so much time on the painting and not gotten paid for anything! Plus the painting was of this very specific family house that I felt like I couldn't do anything else with. I never heard another word from the client. 

However, at some point I began to love the painting again. I think the clients email that implied they didn't like my work completely colored my opinion of it. I was only able to love it again once I let go of the thought that someone hated it.  

Next thing I know, someone is interested in it. I marketed it to them as a painting of charming, southern farm house and they purchased it! Ultimately, my fail came with a happy ending, but I think I learned a lot from the unpleasant part. 

I learned to trust myself and not have such harsh thoughts about my own work. One person's opinion, or lack of opinion, about my work doesn't mean everyone feels that way. It's actually funny because throughout this experience so many other people were telling me that they thought the painting was great, but that one negative reaction completely overpowered the many positive ones. How dumb is that?! 
Trust yourself as an artist and trust your ability to create something beautiful!"

Thanks for sharing, Jesse! Do you have an art "fail" you'd like to share? Email me at

Wednesday, August 26, 2015




Making figures in old paintings into styled crazies is real fun. The statue is also a nice touch. And I'm getting paid for this one :)

Friday, August 21, 2015

Fail Friday: Try and Try Again

"I have submitted my work to be featured on one of my favorite art websites every month for the last 2 years. I still have never been featured."

-Chloe York

Do you have an artist "fail" you'd like to share? Email me at

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Calls to Artists: August 2015

•The Los Angeles Center for Digital Art is seeking submissions for the 2015 International Juried Competition. All styles of artwork and photography where digital processes of any kind were integral to the creation of the images are acceptable. Entrants may submit up to three JPEG files of original work. The selected winner receives 10 prints, up to 44 in. x 60 in. on museum quality paper to be shown in a solo exhibition in LACDA’s main gallery, Sept. 10–Oct. 3. Ten second place winners will also be exhibited. The deadline to submit is Aug. 24Read more and submit…

•The UrbanArt Commission and the City of Memphis are seeking to commission an iconic sculpture that will serve as a landmark identifier in Halle Park and function as a gateway to the district for the public. The project's Selection Committee desires this gateway to reflect both the diversity and history of the area. The proposed location for the sculpture is in the vicinity of the south entrance to Halle Park. The deadline to submit is Aug. 24. Read more and submit…

•The UrbanArt Commission and the City of Memphis are commissioning an integrative public art piece at Denver Park in the Raleigh-Frayser neighborhood that will enhance the newly renovated park and provide an important, site-specific art element for the public. The finished project must require little to no regular maintenance. Final artwork should complement the characteristics and neighborhood identity of the site.The deadline to submit is Sept. 4. Read more and submit…

•ArtsMemphis is now accepting Letters of Inquiry (LOI) for their Community Engagement Grant Program. The ArtsMemphis Community Engagement Grant seeks to address the needs of underserved communities through innovative, arts-based projects. All applicants will use the online letter of inquiry to apply for funding. The purpose of the LOI is to introduce ArtsMemphis to your work to determine whether or not there is a good match with ArtsMemphis’ funding priorities. If it is determined that there is a good fit, you will be asked to submit a full proposal. The deadline to submit a letter of inquiry is Sept. 21. Read more and submit...

The Tennessee Arts Commission on behalf of the Tennessee State Capitol Commission and the Tennessee General Assembly requests qualifications from professional artists to create a bust to commemorate one of Tennessee’s most notable native sons, David Crockett. This memorial 4-foot bronze bust will be displayed on the second floor of the Tennessee State Capitol Building in Nashville, Tenn. This project is open to established visual artists living in the United States with a minimum of 5 years professional experience working on public art projects. Applicants must have knowledge of fabrication and installation of busts, or similar sculpture, in bronze. Three references familiar with previous projects are required. The application deadline is Sept. 30, and the budget is up to $45,000. Read more and apply...

•The NARS Foundation is currently accepting applications for their International Artist Residency Program. The program supports emerging and mid-career artists and is open to both International and US-Based artists, creating an international artistic dialogue and exchange. The residency offers 24/7 access to 280–325 sq.ft. studio spaces in Sunset Park neighborhood of  Brooklyn, NY. While experimenting and creating new work in the studio, artists are encouraged to engage with the public and share new work through public events, artist presentations, group outings and tours, and studio visits with curators, gallerists, and arts administrators. The deadline to submit is Oct. 1. Read more and apply…

•Tennessee Craft (formerly TACA), in partnership with the Tennessee Arts Commission, is offering an opportunity for emerging makers to learn traditional and contemporary craft skills from master-level craftsmen through their 2015–2016 Master Artist/Apprentice Program (MAAP). Applications, to be completed together by master and artist, are available now until October 31, 2015. A jury panel will then select program participants. Eligible craft media includes basketry, clay, fiber/textiles, furniture, glass, jewelry, metal, 2D and 3D mixed media, paper, printmaking, sculpture and wood. Apprenticeships will last from December 1, 2015 through June 15, 2016 with a final exhibition to be held at the Tennessee Arts Commission Gallery in the Fall of 2016. Read more and apply…

Friday, August 14, 2015

Fail Friday: Terri Scott

This week's Fail Friday post features special guest illustrator, Terri Scott, who had this story to share:

"While in school, I was asked by 'Anonymous' Theatre to do an Alice in Wonderland illustration. They could only pay a small amount, but I was eager for the experience and knew from other artists that they were good people. I jumped right into it and it took several weeks, in between school, to finish. The day I finished the last stroke, I left to run errands. My acrylic painting on illustration board lay flat on my drawing table, with a full cup of paint water next to it.
I have a cat. She likes water. When I came home after a few hours, I found my painting soaking in a pool of water, the cup tipped over! It was so soaked that it warped the board and the backing peeled off! I took the blow dryer to it until it dried completely. The painted part was still intact (yay acrylic!) so my roommate rigged up this photoshoot using all of our lamps and yarn and tape. She managed to take good photos of the piece, despite the warped board.
I then emailed my client the piece and thought, 'Done and done!' Well...I realized the importance of flushing out all of the details of a project beforehand when they asked, 'When can we get the original?' Um. I assumed, because I've been taught that illustrators typically don't sell originals and that the theater would only use it on their website, that they only wanted the digital file. Well.
I had to explain to them my error and admit that my cat pretty much killed it. Evil little furball! Thankfully they were understanding, but chided me for not being clearer in the beginning. Everything resolved itself and I learned two valuable lessons. Never leave water cups unattended and always be thorough about any project before jumping in!"
-Terri Scott
Thanks for sharing, Terri! To see more of Terri's work, please visit her website:

Photo courtesy of Terri Scott

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Commission Us?

Remember these collaboratives Eric Quick and I completed together? We managed to sell two of the series and were also approached for a commission. We are currently at the sketch approval stage, but once the client approves the sketch and color palette, we will set to work on the piece. 

The parameters for the project were to use barred owls as the animal (the client has a pair of them that live in her backyard, so we decided to do two owls) and she likes the palette of "Hermit Crab" but wanted a little more emerald green. 

If you would like to commission us for a creature collaborative, please contact me at

Chloe York and Eric Quick "Nautilus" 

Chloe York and Eric Quick "Hermit Crab"

Chloe York and Eric Quick "Mantis Shrimp"

Eric Quick "Barred Owl" sketch and palette study

Monday, August 10, 2015

New Items in the Shop

A new shipment of greeting cards and prints are now available for purchase in my shop. Select the "Shop" tab at the top of this page to be directed there.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Fail Friday (On a Thursday)

Introducing a new blog series called "Fail Friday," in which I reveal the not-so-pretty aspects of being an artist, times I royally screwed up, had things not go my way, etc. I will post a new one every Friday.

I think, understandably, we only want to show the successful stuff and share only our good news with our followers, but I want to show that being an artist is hard. It takes making a lot of mistakes, being dumb, and struggling. The viewer doesn't normally think about that when they're admiring a lovely painting by an artist who always seems to have their shit together. Believe me, we don't.

For this series, I'll share some of my unfortunate experiences and I would like to invite others to join me. Please contact me about a time you felt like giving up, did something you regret, or felt just overall icky about your artistic practice. I will share it here. You can provide your name or keep it anonymous. It is totally up to you.

So to kick things off, here is one of my fails:

"In high school, I got a D in art class. Not on one assignment. That was my class average."
-Chloe York

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

On Rejection

One thing I think is very important and something I try to keep in the back of my mind as an artist is to expect rejection. Knowing that it will happen. No one has reached a successful point in their lives without having been turned down for an opportunity that they wanted more than anything. Nobody has gone through life without hearing "no." Rejection happens and it SUCKS. It happened to me today.

I had applied for an amazing studio residency that would have been a great push for me, something I was fairly sure I had a good shot to earn. I eagerly awaited the notification date and when it came, I kept my eyes glued to my inbox, refreshing it constantly. I forced myself to calm down, stop being spazzy, what happens happens, etc.

When the email came, I took a deep breath and set myself up for however I would react. I knew as soon as I opened it that it would not be the news I wanted to hear. After skimming this generic rejection letter about three times, pausing on the word, "Unfortunately," it was like going through the five stages of grief. Rejection (and being sad in general) certainly makes me dramatic. I sat back in my chair, felt my eyes prickling, ready to cry, and I seriously decided to give up making art.

I am laughing now at this reaction, but man it was real enough to me at the time. I had it all figured out. I was going to toss my paintings, turn my sad little "home studio" into a proper guest room, give all my art supplies away and just forget about it. Writing this makes me feel pretty embarrassed, but it's what happened. I came home and wallowed, feeling sorry for myself. Just from one little rejection. It seems so silly now!

I know I've been more fortunate than many. There have been wonderful compliments, sales, and opportunities I've admittedly taken for granted. I don't want to be like that any more.

I'm not sure exactly where I'm going with this post, but I guess I just wanted to put it out there that you're not alone. As artists, we go through some tough stuff. It is so hard to put yourself out there, to make the work you want to make and stay consistent. It's hard to feel like you're not only making something visually appealing but to also make a statement that means something to you. Rejection is really, really hard. But it happens. To everyone.

And in a funny way, being turned down for this opportunity has made me feel even more motivated. I'm ready to keep going, and harder.

If you've read this post up to now, I thank you. Writing about this experience was some kind of therapy for me (because rejection also makes me self-centered), but I hope it also helped you in some way. I want to show that its okay to have things not go your way and it's okay to feel like quitting. Just take a deep breath and make good art. You will kick ass another day.

Amy Hartelust

I recently connected with Memphis artist, Amy Hartelust when we met through our shared representative, Christian Nelius of Anno Domini Memphis. She had purchased a piece of mine at Incognito, a silent art auction at the Memphis Botanic Gardens and we didn't get a chance to meet until later when we were both participating at yet another fundraiser at Designer's Choice Interiors.

That was the first opportunity I had to really look at her work and guys, it is GOOD. I love her controlled use of patterning and vibrant colors. I think our art was made for each other. And I am super excited to announce that next year, we are going to be in a show together with all new works by both of us, as well as some collaboratives (eeeeeee!!). Details to come.

Amy Hartelust

Amy Hartelust

Amy Hartelust

For more of Amy and her work, please visit her website:

Also check out this sweet Artist to Artist Interview featuring me on her blog: